Monday, July 31, 2006

My Trip To Fenway

Greetings from the Hilton Garden Inn in Springfield, MA. The wife and I are resuming our stadium tour this week and it kicked off tonight in historic Fenway Park, excuse me, Pahk, for the Indians v. Red Sox. Thursday we'll be in Kansas City, Friday in St. Louis.
I'm sure by now everybody knows that Big Papi hit yet another walk-off. I called it. I said to my wife in the top of the 9th that if Cleveland didn't score I better get my camera ready so I can take pictures of Ortiz throwing his helmet into the air and getting mobbed at home plate, and sure enough it happened. The guy is good, there's no doubt about it. I however disagree with those who think he is a great clutch hitter. The fact of the matter is, in order to come up in a big spot, your team has to be losing late in the game, which it seems like the Sox often are. And everyone knows that in most games, the top of the order almost always comes to bat in the 9th inning. Ortiz always seems to be in the position to win or tie the game in the 9th. If you get enough chances at something, you're going to get the outcome you desire every now and then. Does anybody know what his batting average is in these situations? Or even how many times he succeeds compared to how many times he has the opportunity to come up big? I don't know the answer to this but the answer could surprise some people. What if his success rate is only 20%. He comes through 1 in every 5 games say. Maybe everybody thinks he's clutch because we see the highlights of him coming through once or twice a week, but we don't see his failures. It's kind of like with the people that whine and moan about Yankee curtain calls. Every team does it, but the Yankees are seen more often than say the Royals. Know what I'm saying? Don't get me wrong, Papi is good and I'd feel good about my chances with him late in the game. I'm just curious if he's perceived to be good because we see always see the highlights, never see the lowlights, and the Sox always seem to be losing late? I don't know the answer to these questions. I'm just throwing it out there.
As for Fenway, it's pretty nice for an old stadium. Once you get by the God-awful smell, the narrow aisles, the constant amount of people that walk in front of you during the game, and that annoying Boston dialect, it's a pretty good place. What is it with people from New England not knowing how to pronounce the letter "R." I'm not saying this because I'm pre-programmed to dislike the Red Sox and their fans. The accent just drives me nuts. It's "R" not "H." Far, not fah. Car, not cah. Bar, not bah. There was one guy on the streets before the game hawking newspapers for a "Quahter." What the heck is a quahter?? Ah Bostonians, you gotta love 'em. I kid because I care.
Our seats were pretty nice except we were right on the lower level walkway. All game long people were walking by. One guy kept yelling at people in his New England accent to keep moving. It was funny. For those familiar with Fenway, we were on the first base side, sec 16, Box 118, Row AA, right between the lower seats and the next section. Some guy was telling me that every time a left-handed batter was up we were on TV. I took a lot of pictures and hope to put them up when we get back. I think I got some good shots. My home PC is on the fritz so it might take a while but I'll get 'em up there.
The area surrounding Fenway was pretty cool. A very lively area. I didn't really get to experience it all that much as we got there about a 1/2 hour before BP and I wanted to try and get some autographs, which I didn't. I could have gotten Coco Crisp's, but he's Coco Crisp so I didn't waste a ball. Mike Timlin signed a few balls a few feet away. I wanted to get him on a WBC ball I've started and i probably could have except I didn't climb my way over the seats to get it. I also wasn't 100% sure he played in the WBC. I was 99% sure. I thought I'd ask some people figuring they'd be in the know as he's on "their team", but the 5 people I asked either weren't sure or told me that they didn't think he played for Team USA. Way to know your own team guys. Seriously, I was disappointed in their knowledge on their guys. I also thought it was odd that when the Sox finished BP all the people that were trying to get autographs weren't yelling out player's names, unless they were the caliber of Ortiz or Manny. Papelbon strolled by and not a word. Now I can only speculate as to why but the wife and I were thinking that most of them didn't know who they were. It's like when you ask someone who's their favorite team and you know they're a bandwagon fan so you ask them to name 5 guys and they can't. That's the impression I got. If your name wasn't Manny, Papi, or Varitek, they didn't know who you were. Now maybe it was just the people around me but I know most Sox fans there could probably rattle off the whole roster. I still think when most members of the Red Sox Nation pull out their membership cards, it says "member since 2004." You have to admit, since 2004, Sox fans have come out of the woodwork. Cooperstown was infested with them, probably outnumbering Yankee fans 5-1. I'm seeing this everywhere. You can probably make the same case for Yankee fans I'm sure.
Overall, the wife and I had a really great time. Though it didn't end how we had hoped, it was a great game with a great finish. Many thanks to the Red Sox Chick for giving me some info on the park and the area. It was helpful and if anyone would know she would. My advice to anyone going to Fenway for the first time: Bring noseplugs and if you park in the Landsdowne lot, it will take you a good 10 minutes or so to exit the lot because of all the foot traffic.
Tomorrow it's back to Buffalo for the night then Wednesday AM we're back on the road headed to KC. I hope to blog more about the trip and each stadium while I'm in the city. At the completion of this trip, we'll have been to 19 stadiums in 3 years, pretty much everything east of the Mighty Mississippi. After this, it only gets tougher.
I also need to post the details on my trip to Cooperstown. It was great and I was pretty successful with the autographs. Perhaps tomorrow if I can get my PC working. If not, I'll try and go to the in-laws. My apologies to my fellow Yankee bloggers for not visiting their blogs and leaving comments. It's been a pretty hectic last couple of weeks. I'll get on it after the weekend. Oh, and if you're a Yankee fan, you have to love Brian Cashman. I know I'm loving him.
Peace, love and pinstripes.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'm Back & Bobby Is On His Way

I'm back from Cooperstown. Awesome time, more on that later. As i was driving home there was a lot of talk on the radio about the Bobby Abreu deal to the Yankees. Having been in Cooperstown since Thursday i was unaware of any trade talks. I knew trades hadn't happened (except for Lee). I was surprised to hear that the Abreu deal was moving along.
According to ESPN Radio, Buster Olney is calling it a done deal. Abreu and Cory Lidle are headed to the Bronx in exchange for Matt Smith, SS Prospect CJ Henry, another prospect to be chosen from an agreed upon list, and the Yankees will assume the rest of Lidle's and Abreu's contract. Let me see. Wang? Check. Cano? Check? Cabrera? Check. Hughes? Check. This deal works for me, assuming of course it happens. Until it's official, you never know.
Adding Abreu to the lineup is huge for the Yanks. He has some pop in his bat, though he's struggling, but he gets on base, A LOT! Adding his bat to the lineup is going to be huge. I think we're done with Sheffield? But imagine this, the OF of Matsui, Damon, and Abreu. Sheffield at DH, Posada, Giambi, Cano, Jeter, and A-Rod. Can you say #27?
Lidle is serviceable. He's more likely to succeed than Chacon, Wright, or Ponson. I have to think Ponson is going to be cut or Chacon might be dealt. The Yanks don't need 7 starters at this point in the game.
I'm sure he boards will be buzzing with this once it's official. Cross your fingers Yankee fans. All signs point to the fact that it's a go. But until it's official, anything can happen.
Edited to add @ 3:50: Michael Kay announced the deal was officially announced by the Yankees, though the details of the trade weren't shared!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Off To Cooperstown

I'll be incommunicado for the next few days. I'm off to Cooperstown for the Induction Weekend. It'll be my first trip there for the Inductions so I'm not sure what to expect. I've made no arrangements to stay anywhere so I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I know for sure there are no hotels with any vacancies in the remote area which is cool, because I don't really want to spend the money. I'm hoping to sleep in the car in a lot somewhere in the village or near the village as I'm going to be putting in some long hours "hounding" for some autographs. I've got my game plan and about 2 dozen baseballs ready to be signed. Call it wishful thinking on my part, but I don't know what to expect. I know for sure I'll be getting 4 signatures that in all likelihood I'll pay for. Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Bobby Doerr, and Whitey Ford. They are the 4 oldest HOFers that are scheduled to sign so I figured they'd be the best guys to get. With any luck, I'll get it before I pay for it to save on a few bucks. I can't wait to get there. It should be a lot of fun.
This is my favorite time of year as I coordinate my vacation around baseball. Last week i went to the 4 Yankees/Blue Jays game. This vacation kicks off with Cooperstown (Thursday-Sunday). On Monday, I'll be making my first trip to Fenway Park to catch the Sox play the Indians. I wonder who I'll root for there. Tuesday I'm driving back home to Buffalo, just to turn around and leave Wednesday morning for Kansas City. We're catching the Twins/Royals game Thursday night in KC and Friday we're going to Busch Stadium for the Brewers/Cardinals. It's Albert Pujols t-shirt night. Bonus! The entire trip is done by car and the wife and I have a lot of fun taking these trips. Last year we pulled off Shea, RFK, Tropicana, Dolphins Stadium, Turner Field, and Yankee Stadium in a little over a week. That was awesome. I hope this trip can duplicate the excitement of that trip. Hopefully, this time we won't be making a pit stop at an emergency room. Maybe I'll tell that story later. I'm going to bring along a laptop and hope to blog from the road. While I'm gone I need my fellow Yankee bloggers to hold down the fort. I look forward to reading the game accounts and your thoughts on what I've missed. Take care.
Peace, love and pinstripes.

Back In A New York Groove

After a horrendous series against the Blue Jays, the Yanks bounced back sweeping the Rangers in Arlington. Last night's finale was pretty exciting. The Yanks squandered an early lead, bounced back late to go ahead only to blow it, then the bate came through in the 9th and Mo shut it down for the 1,2,3. What a finish! Ground was gained on Boston and we leapfrogged the White Sox in the wild card standings, though the lead over the White Sox and Twins is minuscule. But all and all, it was a great series in Texas.
The key to last night's victory had to be Shawn Chacon's great double play to get the Yankees out of the 8th only trailing by 1. That inning had disaster written all over it. But the baseball Gods were looking down on the boys and the ball made it's way into his glove and then onto first for the inning-ending DP. The bullpen was horrendous in the 8th. Anyone the Yankees threw out there was getting lit up. The biggest question is where was Farnsworth? Perhaps hitting 101 on the gun in Toronto had some negative effect on him as he's having back problems. Bounce back Kyle, we need that heat. Wright had another blah outing. Nothing stellar but not bad. He's the picture of inconsistency. As mentioned in my Toronto write-up, keep him off the mound against Toronto and we might be okay. Ron Villone continues to impress me and I think he should get some consideration for a start or two. Maybe if Dotel ever joins the club, we'll see that happen.
In my Toronto write-up, I mentioned that the best thing for A-Rod was probably returning to Texas to get his swing back. A hitter's ballpark that he's familiar with. It was just what the doctor ordered. He went 4-11 in the series and also drew two walks. Let's hope he's turned the corner and for God's sake everybody, cut the guy some slack. He may miss coming up big in a huge spot now and then, but you can't dispute that he's our best option. He'll break out of his slump. The good hitters always do. He needs to be shown some support. Let's give it to him Yankee fans.
The captain is on fire. 6-14 in the series and 12 hits in the last 6 games. Jeter has been the picture of consistency all year long. Perhaps if Joe Mauer fades, which I have to think he will, Jeter will have a shot at the batting title. He's having an awesome year.
The Yanks are back home tomorrow against the D-Rays. Fortunately for the Bombers, Scott Kazmir is going to miss a start. The Yanks will be throwing Wang, Johnson and Mussina according to the probables. That tandem is 34-15 this year. The pendulum is in the Yankees favor. The Red Sox are matching up with the Angels so here is where we might see a change in the guards if you will. The Yanks are poised to strike and despite what happened in Toronto, they are playing good ball.
The deadline is this Monday and no one has yet to make a big splash. I'm liking the fact that the Yankees have some big guns they getting, and we don't have to trade anyone to get them in the lineup. Imagine you're tied for first or a few games back at the deadline. You're getting the likes of Cano, Matsui, Sheffield, and possibly Dotel added to your roster for nothing. We're getting the big guns and not giving anyone up to get them. Considering that the Yankees are playing well and are within 2 games of Boston and ahead in the wild card, the return of these guys could put the Yankee machine into overdrive. They've weathered the storm so far without getting huge production from many of the newbies. If Cashman is making a move, let's hope he focuses on getting an arm instead of a bat, though both can't hurt. I'm still in favor of calling up Philip Hughes. We've seen a lot of success from AA pitchers when they get the call, which makes sense because no one is familiar with them yet. As the other teams begin to figure out those who've got a few games under their belt, the Yanks could bring up Hughes and we might see some added wins from adding him as the 4th or 5th starter. In terms of talent, most scouts feel Hughes has a better skill set than many of his AA counterparts in the bigs right now. That doesn't necessarily mean he can better their success, but it does bode well for the Bombers.
The playoff races are insane. It's going to be a crazy couple of months.
Peace, love and pinstripes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And So It Begins

The Yankees have jumped into the trade waters by acquiring Sal Fasano from the Phillies for a minor league infielder. Kelly Stinnett was designated for assignment. I really hope Cashman has more in store than replacing a mediocre catcher with a mediocre catcher. Fasano is a slight upgrade but I don't know how much value he'll add over Stinnett. Let's hope the scouts have done their homework. I'm really beginning to think that teams are waiting for the competition to strike first in the trade department. Less than a week to go.
Anyone else notice the resemblance between Fasano and Clue Haywood (Pete Vuckovich) from Major League?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Toronto: The Visit

If you're a regular reader of my blog, or have ever looked at my photo albums, you know that I'm an autograph hound. I think it's fun and I love building on what I think is an already decent collection. My plan for the trip to Toronto was to get there really early and see if I could pick up anything before the gates opened. It's a pretty tough task seeing that the player parking lot and visiting team drop-off point is underground. You really have to hope that a player would stop and sign something before he went underground. I had heard previously that occasionally the visiting players who take cabs to the stadium will enter through one of the gates. It was my plan to be there in case that happened.
Most players get to the ballpark about 7 hours before gametime. My plan was to be in position by Noon. It was a short hour and 45 minute drive from Buffalo so getting there by Noon was no problem. I left my pad at 10am and was there in plenty of time. I parked the car, wandered to the stadium, and sat myself on a bench outside the gate. I threw on my XM and listened to the baseball channel and waited, and then waited some more. I had noticed 2 people waiting across the street at a parking lot and I wandered over and asked if that was where the Jays came in. It was. I asked who was inside already and pretty much most of the better talent was. I wandered back to my bench and waited again. Since I was the only hound there I knew my efforts were going to be for nothing. They were. Lucky for me, I know a guy who works for the Jays, so I met up with him at 2:30 and he let me come inside and hang out while he set up the scoreboard and stuff. I hung out for about 3 hours and it was pretty interesting. He let me into the actual park about a minute before the gates open, so I was in the perfect spot to get an autograph for BP. The gates open and the throngs of people poured in. Unfortunately for we Yankee fans, the only Yankee to sign was Johnny Damon. He signed one for the guy next to me and then took a spot in front of the dugout and people would toss him something to sign and he'd toss it back. I didn't try to get it because I already have one. Johnny actually signed in front of the dugout on 3 of the 4 days. On the final day, Johnny pointed to a guy and 2 other balls came flying at him. He threw all 3 back along with the pen, threw his hands up, and walked into the clubhouse. I got a kick out of that. Good for Johnny. I'd have done the same thing. Day 1 = 0 autographs. I got home around 2am.
Day 2 started out the same way. I made the drive from Buffalo and got there at Noon. My plan today was to spend some time at the Jays ramp trying to get a few guys, specifically Roy Halladay. I'd find out 2 hours later Roy was already inside when I got there. No one really pulled up I was excited about so I left without any autos. I then went over to the gate, put on my XM and waited just shy of 3 hours for the gates to open. Again, Johnny was the only one that signed. Day 2 = 0 autographs. I got home around 2:30am.
The 3rd game of the series was a 4pm start. My friend Dan and I got there at 11:30 and waited in line for the gates to open at 2pm. We got in and this time no one signed. After the game, we decided to try our luck at the player hotel. We busted our humps and walked the 1.8 miles from the Rogers Centre to the hotel and just missed the return of the team bus. There were already a handful of fans waiting. A-Rod and Mariano, along with their wives and a security dude left the hotel on foot and went to a Thai restaurant about 3 minutes away. Most people are from the school of though that if A-Rod is going to sign he'd do it away from the hotel. So we, along with some others, followed him to the restaurant, giving them their space the whole way. We were hoping that the group would dwindle in size, which it did, albeit temporarily. There were 7 of us waiting and we were discussing how we could entice Alex to sign. We figured a straight line with the first asking if he'd spare the time was our best bet. As we waited, the line eventually grew to 14. 2 hours passed and they finally left the restaurant. We were in our line, the first person asked, and we were politely turned down. We walked back to the hotel. The last time i was at their hotel I got Mattingly and Giambi to sign, but we were actually up the street about a block from the hotel, and it was just the 2 of us. I had noticed that a lot of the players had come back from that direction so we decided to walk up the street a ways to see what was there. We walked up for 5-10 minutes and then turned around. As we were walking back a valet at a restaurant asked us if we were Yankee fans (the shirts gave us away). We said yes, and he asked if we were from NY, and we again said yes. He then said there was a player in the restaurant who was just finishing up dinner. It was Johnny Damon. We decided we'd wait. About 10-15 minutes later, Damon exited the restaurant with his wife, Kyle Farnsworth and his wife/girlfriend, and 2 other guys. My friend had Farnsworth sign a ball (I already have one) and then we both had Johnny sign a ball. I had him sign an official World Baseball Classic ball. I'm eventually going to try and get some other WBCers to sign the ball as well. They seemed happy to sign and we were more than grateful. Right place at the right time I guess. We went back to the hotel and waited until about 1:15 before we left. We could have gotten some other signatures but they were second-tier Yankees so why waste a ball. Day 3 = 1 autograph. I got home around 3:30am..
I didn't really think they were going to have BP on Sunday as they normally don't so I didn't leave too early. The wife and I went and we ended up getting to the Rogers Centre about 10 minutes before they opened. There were some decent sized lines so I wandered to another gate, which is a gate but it doesn't look like one, and was about 6th in line. They opened up, we went in, and I noticed that the cage was set up and some Yankee coaches were on the field. I ran quickly down to the dugout and took a spot in the corner where I normally do. The wife was right there with me. The Yanks came out for BP and again Damon signed. If you ever want a Johnny Damon autograph, go behind the dugout. He signed there for me when we saw him in Tampa last year. Anyway, one by one players are leaving the field, much like they did the previous 3 days. Bye Derek. Bye Bernie. Bye Johnny. Bye Jason. Bye Alex. What? What's this? Someone decides to come back out of the dugout and they head to our corner. I thought he was going to give a kid his batting gloves but he took his ball and started signing. Immediately I feel the crowd swell and my leg is getting pinned under a seat someone steps on. Ouch. But in the end, I got the signature on the sweet spot and my wife got one on the side panel (she was shaking and was scared to ask). Who was the player you ask? Here's a hint: I told my friend who we got and he was like "why would you want his, he (expletive deleted) su**s!). If you can't figure it out from that, it was A-Rod! That made the whole trip worth it!! Thanks Alex. Even though you're slumping, you're still the man. Day 4 = 2 A-Rod autos!! Weekly total = 3 autos.
Not a bad weekend if I say so myself. I'll post the pictures in the coming days along with the ones I got at Fanfest. I'm heading to Cooperstown for the weekend this Thursday so I'm hoping to add quite a bit to the collection over the next 2 weeks. I'm also going to games in Boston, KC, and St. Louis in the same week. I have my targets. Check back if you care to see/hear how it went.
I'm thinking of writing a book about getting autos. Kind of like Zack's book on snagging foul balls. So Zack, if you read this, I might have some questions for you on how you got started. If i do in fact make the attempt at the book, I'm going to try and get some player perspective on the subject. We'll see. It might be fun.
Peace, love, and pinstripes.

Toronto: The Games

That was a rough series. Unfortunately, I witnessed it all first hand. It was rough. The Jays fans were all over the Yankees all series. They were riding high and they deserved every minute of it. My seats were awesome. I was in the lower level, front row, down in RF. We were pretty close to the action and i was right near Bernie. He was getting heckled all weekend long, especially about being old. Poor Bernie.
Jaret Wright should never be allowed to pitch against Toronto. they flashed his career stats vs. the Jays in the pre-game and if I recall he was 1-6 with an ERA over 9. It went up and I wasn't surprised.
A-Rod is in a huge slump. He's obviously still one of the best players in baseball, regardless of how he's doing. I think the boo birds have gotten to him and are in his head. He'd definitely hurting the Yanks. The throwing error cost us game 1. The golden sombrero was awful. He's hurting. But he did rack up his 2000th hit and 450th HR. He made a comment that the accomplishment reminds him that he can still hit the ball and it's just a slump that he's in. Nobody that can do that by the age of 31 is a bum. He's slumping, plain and simple. Maybe he needs a mental health day or two. Anybody that thinks he needs to be traded is an idiot. The guy is the reigning MVP. His career numbers are remarkable and he's a first-ballot HOFer. You don't trade that. For those that think he can't handle NY, I don't buy that either. His performance last year was stellar. He's just in a funk. He'll break out of it. Everybody, regardless of how good they are, slumps. And it's not like his numbers are awful either. I'm an A-Rod supporter all the way.
Scotty Proctor had a great series and was lights out. 17 pitches in game 1 and 16 were for strikes. Kyle Farnsworth was also pretty dominant in the lone Yankee victory. Man he can bring the heat. We saw triple digits on successive pitches, the highest being 101. Ron Villone also was looking good.
Even though the team is slumping, we're still in pretty good shape. We're only 2.5 games behind Boston for the East and only 2.5 games behind Chicago for the wild card. Both are easily within reach and I'm confident that come October, I'll be trying to get playoff tickets.
The Jays are a great team. The lineup is so potent. Everyone with the exception of Troy Glaus and John McDonald are hitting around, or well above .300. Vernon Wells is awesome. Reed Johnson is awesome. They are going to make a serious run at the playoffs.
I didn't have a good feeling about the Yanks going into this series. I knew the Wright and Ponson games were going to be tough to win. Anytime you face Halladay you're starting behind the 8-ball. The only game I felt confident about was the Wang game. Man he's underrated, don't you think? The Yanks offense was pretty good the whole series. The pitching and A-Rod's defense left a lot to be desired. And the pitching really wasn't bad. It is the combination of Ponson, Wilson, Chacon, and Wright that are horrible. They are the ones that aren't getting it done. I said it before: CALL UP THE KID!! Or put Villone in the rotation. The 4th and 5th starters need to be upgraded.
So it's off to Texas. I feel a lot better about this series. A-Rod is going to back to a ballpark he's had success in. Randy and Moose are getting the ball. I'm expecting the boys to bounce back. The trade deadline is fast approaching. I've been reading the rumors and nothing has given me that feeling that popping a Viagra would. I know Cashman is content with the team but after the Jays series he has to see that something needs to be done. We'll find out by this time next week what, if anything, he can pull off. I have to think he'll do something. Just don't trade Cano, Cabrera, Hughes, or Wang and I'll be happy.
You think anyone wants a Chacon, Ponson, Wright package??

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Look at The Sox/Yanks

There seems to be a lot of back and forth between Yanks fans and Sox fans. I'm over at the Red Sox Chick's blog reading her post today about the Sox sweep of KC and that the Yankees dropped one to Seattle, with the Sox having a slim 1.5 game lead. I understand how each set of fans think that there team is better. And you can argue a case for each being the better team. Sox fans like to draw comparison to the fact the the Yankees lost a game to the Royals and that the Sox beat the teams they are supposed to and the Yankees don't. The Sox were great in interleague, blah blah blah. Well interleague is over and I looked at the schedule, neither teams have any games scheduled with National League opponents. Let's take a look at how the two stack up against the AL as that's what is left on the docket.

Now, this is by no means scientific, but it does lend to the thought that the Sox will fold and the Yanks have better than average odds of winning the division. Just some food for thought:

  • Against AL teams, the Yankees are 24-20 (.545) against teams with a record better than .500. The Sox are 18-24 (.429) against teams that are better than .500. Last time I checked, teams that are below .500 don't make the playoffs.
  • Against AL teams that are worse than .500, the Yankees are 21-9 (.700) and the Sox are 23-10 (.697). Look at that, the Yankees are better against those teams as well.

What have we learned from the above? The Sox are not as good as the Yankees when playing AL teams. Too bad interleague is over. Let's take this a step further.

  • The Yankees have 41 games left against teams above .500, and 29 against those below. For argument's sake, let's say they play them at the exact same winning percentage they've done to date. That will result in approximately 43 wins for the Yanks.
  • The Sox have 39 games left against teams above .500 and 30 against those below. Again, we'll assume they play to the same winning percentage. That comes up to about 38 wins.

Do the math and you'll see that the Yankees pick up about 5 games and they are only 1.5 back. Assuming the above, the Yanks would end with the better record. But, the teams aren't playing the exact same teams they've played already. But let's assume they do. If you take into account the team's winning percentage against the AL teams they've played already, you get the following, and you have to trust my math is correct:

  • The Yankees would win approximately 44 games.
  • The Sox would win approximately 36 games, not counting the 6 they have to play against the Angels, the one team they haven't played yet. Heck, let's give the Sox all 6 of those games. The total moves to 42 games.

The Yanks pick up 2 games and are 1.5 back. Again, things favor the the Yankees. Let's take a look at the teams statistically shall we. I think this is through yesterday:

  • Offensively, the Sox get the slight nod, but barely. The Yankees have a higher AVG by .002. The Sox have a higher OBP and SLG, but only by .006.
  • Believe it or not, the Yankees have the better pitching staff, statistically speaking. The Yankee ERA is lower by .22. The team WHIP is lower by .03. Opponents also have a lower batting average against Yankee pitchers. The Yankees OPS for the staff is lower by .39.
  • Defensively, the Sox are better. We won't even debate that.

So what does this all mean? In the grand scheme of things, not much, because the games aren't played on paper. If they were, it's obvious who the winner would be. This shows that the Sox, while good, aren't as good as the Yankees when it comes to playing the AL. The argument that the Sox were better in interleague and that they beat the teams they're supposed to and the Yankees didn't, is hogwash. I think what was outlined above shows that pretty convincingly. All the Sox have on the Yanks is the better interleague record. And that's over. Since interleague play ended the Yanks are 9-4 and the Sox are 7-7. In a short 2 weeks, the Yankees picked up 2.5 games. There are still 70 some odd games to go. All signs point to the Yankees being able to win the division. The 1.5 game lead the Sox currently have doesn't look to be enough. But come October, it'll be nice to look fondly back and say "hey, do you remember that 1.5 game lead we had in July?" That was nice." Have fun with that.
Oh, if you take into account that the Yankees have been without Matsui and Sheffield, and have missed "the regulars" on and off, it's even more impressive. If those guys were in the lineup, I'd like to think that the Yanks would have won at least 2 of the games they lost. Guess what? They're coming back!
Be forewarned Red Sox Nation. The sky will be falling shortly.
Peace, love and pinstripes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An Ugly Game

Last night's Yankee/Mariner game was ugly defensively. The teams combined for 7 errors, A-Rod counting for 3 of them. Ugh. As bad as Alex played defensively, none of his errors led to runs and the Yankees won the game, and that's what's important. Jonathan over at RSN Daily took some shots at A-Rod in a post today. I don't know why the errors are that big a deal. Again, no runs scored and the Yanks won. It's baseball, that's going to happen occasionally, even to the best of players. I raised a question in his comments section about which is worse: A-Rod's 3 errors that led to no runs and the Yankees won, or Mark Loretta's 1 error that led to an unearned game-tying run in a game the Red Sox lost? That's a no brainer. What's important is winning? You can have the greatest defense in the world, but it doesn't mean anything if you don't win. If the Yankees win the AL East and the Red Sox miss the playoffs, their record setting "17 game without an error" streak is meaningless. Time will tell.
The pitching staff is rolling. Wang becomes the 3rd Yankee pitcher with at least 10 victories. His ability to induce groundballs will save (and has saved) the Yankees when the defense plays poorly, like they did last night. I'm surprised they brought Rivera in to pitch the 9th as he threw 2 innings on Sunday. It looks like Joe wanted to win that game. The first game of the series is an important one to win as it could set the tone for the rest of the series. Perhaps Joe was looking a day ahead at Ponson starting and figured the odds are good he'll get hit hard and Rivera won't be needed. Regardless, Mo notched save 401. His last 3 outings have been a little scarier than I'd like but he's getting the job done. He's 9 for 9 in his last 9 save opportunities. If I did the math right, he's 20 for his last 21. Not bad.
The Yanks are playing their best ball of the season. The Sox lead is still .5 games but the Yanks have the momentum. They've been able to weather the storms so far, and it looks like they're not going to lie down and play dead like people are predicting. Even though they are a half game back, the Yankees are the better ball club in the AL East. As the trade deadline looms the pendulum could swing and change directions. The division could be settled in the front office and not on the field. It'll be an interesting 2 weeks and an even more interesting 2.5 months. I love this game.
Peace, love, and pinstripes. Go Ponson!

Interview w/ Jeter

Here's some highlights of the Captain's interview on XM:

  • With respect to A-Rod's 3 errors: It's the type of game everyone has. You forget it and move on. What's important is winning the game.
  • He feels that the bottom line is pitching. He feels the pitching staff is carrying the team right now.
  • He said you have to have a good team if you're going to win. The young guys have played well and have filled-in admirably through the injuries. Good teams make the playoffs. Teams with good players don't necessarily make the playoffs. He feels the Yanks are a good team.
  • He said it was a good thing they didn't trade Mo to Seattle back in '96 (for Felix Fermin). editor's note: Duh.
  • Jeter and Rivera go back to 1993 and nothing Mo does amazes him anymore. He thinks it's tough to imagine where they'd be without him.
  • The young Yankees deserve the right to be there and to continue to play.
  • He doesn't like that home-field is decided by the ASG. He thinks it should be the team with the best record.
  • He says there are 77 games left and it's not how you start, it's how you finish and he hopes they finish strong.
  • Injuries are a part of the game but there are still a lot of guys around that are capable and they don't feel sorry for themselves.
  • He gave a lot of credit to Toronto as being a tough team. Thinks Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in the league.
  • When asked who he thought which team had the best staff, he thought the Tigers were tough but he didn't really answer the question. editor's note: that's the interviewer's fault
  • You can't be bothered by getting hit a lot at the plate. Make adjustments and move on.
  • They talked a little about intentionally throwing at guys and he says teams have to protect their players and the pitcher can throw if they feel they are protecting.
  • He thinks the Yanks are playing the best they have all year.

All and all, a good interview. My recap, not as good. It's hard to "live-blog" an interview.

This Is Awesome

I posted a few days ago about the 83 year old guy who stepped into the batter's box to take some hacks and set the record for the oldest ballpalyer. The record is about to fall.
One of the game's greatest ambassadors, Buck O'Neil, at 94 years young, is playing in a minor league all-star game tonight. That's awesome. I'm a big fan of Buck's. I had the pleasure of meeting him 2 days ago when he was in Rochester for a signing. Buck is pretty nimble for a 94-year-old and I wouldn't doubt it if he puts wood on the ball, but it looks like he'll be drawing an intentional walk. I wish the game were televised but I'm sure this will make its way onto the highlight reel.
I'm very disappointed that Buck O'Neil was not inducted into the HOF as part of the special election that was held in May. He's done a lot for the sport and is deserving of the honor. If anyone is interested in signing an online petition to show your support for Buck, here is a link. I'm thinking of creating an "Induct Buck" t-shirt and wearing it to Cooperstown when I go next weekend. I only hope that if and when Buck is inducted it is not done posthumously. That would be a shame.

Interview w/The Captain

If you have an XM Radio, Derek Jeter is scheduled to appear on today's episode of "The Show w/ Kevin Kennedy and Rob Dibble." For those of you that don't have it and are interested in what he has to say, I'll try to "live-blog" the interview, assuming I'm at my desk and not in the car when it's on.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Interview w/Cashman

I'm listening to The Show w/ Kevin Kennedy and Rob Dibble on XM and they are interviewing Yankee GM Brian Cashman. Here's some highlights of the interview:

  • They are looking for Dotel to join the club in 7-10 days
  • Cano is still 2 weeks away
  • If the trading deadline ended today, he'd be satisfied with the club.
  • He's looking to rebuild the farm system and create an identity for these players. He brought up a point about Jonathan Papelbon and how if the Red Sox had traded him before the deadline last year to improve the 2005 Sox, they'd be missing out on what he can offer to the 2006 Sox and beyond. He's looking to do the same with the likes of Cano, Wang, etc.
  • They also talked about Mariano and the 400 saves, but I missed most of it.
  • He also talked about the Ponson signing. They (Cash and the coaching staff) think he's capable, but he did mention that there are still a few weeks to evaluate other options if it's a failed experiment.

I'm glad that he's recognized how important the farm system is and how it's important to the long term success of the organization. It doesn't sound like he's interested in parting with any of the youngsters, which is good. You may get some bang for your buck when you bring in a good veteran, but when you're team is already competitive and you can build on your farm system, you do it. The Yanks have played well and are just a mere half game back. Considering they don't have Matsui and Sheffield in the lineup, it's impressive. Cashman can afford to be picky and look for the right deal. I have to think that the Yankees will make a move before the deadline, but I'm not expecting a huge blockbuster. I think there are guys in the minors that are expendable, like Eric Duncan. Duncan has the talent but is stuck behind A-Rod, Giambi and Phillips on the depth chart. There really is no need for him on the parent club. Cashman is being smart. He didn't panic when the team lost the bulk of its production. He stayed calm, let things develop, and has put himself and the Yankees into a better bargaining position. Re-signing Cashman is turning out to be one of the Yankees best offseason moves. Let's just hope King George keeps his hands out of the pot.
Peace, love and Pinstripes. Go Yanks!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I Almost Forgot...

Congrats to Mariano on notching career save #400!

A Near Perfect Weekend

How sweep it is! What a finish to a great and near perfect weekend! The Yanks finished the sweep of the defending World Champs. The A's took 3 of 4 from the Red Sox and the Yanks sit only a half game back. And I got a Buck O'Neil autograph. The only thing that would have made the weekend perfect would have been an A's sweep. But I can't complain about them taking 3 of 4. This just goes to show that when the Sox run in to a good team, they'll struggle. Thanks Oakland, I knew you had it in you.
We'll start with the Buck O'Neil autograph. Earlier in the week I found out that Buck was going to be at a Rochester Red Wings game signing autographs. I was pretty excited since he no-showed the Sunday I was at the FanFest. It's funny how things like that work out. I made the short 1 hour drive down the 90, stood outside in the 95 degree heat for 1.5 hours, and got the signature. I didn't stick around for the game, but I did spend an hour talking to a fellow Yankee/baseball fan named Paul. Nice guy. I'm sure our paths will cross again as we collectors seem to show up at the same events. Thanks for the Coke Paul.
Oakland, the worst hitting team in MLB, went into Fenway and took 3 of 4. So much for that home-field advantage that was supposed to give the Sox and easier time of winning the East. It didn't take long for the Sox to squander their 4 game lead. Funny how it happened right after interleague play ended. I've said it several times in many posts, and I'll continue to say it, the Sox are not that impressive. If you want to know some reasons why, please go back and check out some of my past posts.
I didn't get to see the Yankee game today as I was in Rochester. But I did get to listen to the entire thing on XM. Kyle Farnsworth continues to make these games interesting. Just throw fastballs bro. That's all you need to do. Octavio can't get here soon enough to help out. Rumor has it, he's not that far away. But we've heard that before. With the exception of Farnsworth, the bullpen continues to be pretty solid. Ron Villone is quietly having an awesome year. I'm still a proponent of having Villone start a few games. I think he could easily be the 4th/5th starter. Who knows? If Ponson falters and if Dotel comes back, it might free up a spot to try that out. The Yankee offense is getting it done, which is no simple task when 4 out of your 9 starters (Sheff, Matsui, Cano, Damon) are injured. The fill-ins have made it work and most have contributed to the Yankee success. You gotta love Miguel Cairo. With the exception of Aaron Guiel, the entire lineup had a base hit today. We need this. The sweep of Chicago accomplished many things. Not only did we trim the Sox lead in the East to .5 games, but we knocked 3 off the wild card lead as well, which is just as important. I'm still baffled by all of the talk that the AL East is only getting one team into the postseason. I'm not impressed with the White Sox after watching them play the Yanks and the Red Sox. And the Tigers may be baseball's best team in terms of wins and losses, but they are 3-10 against the Yankees, Red Sox, and White Sox. The AL Central is no joke. These teams are going to beat on each other. Assuming that the Central is getting the wild card isn't as automatic as everyone thinks. And from what I've heard, most of the so-called experts aren't giving the Yankees much of a chance to beat Boston. I don't understand that. I'm telling you Boston, isn't that great. Sure the Yankees have their issues, but they seem more complete. It's scary to think where the Yankees would be if they had Matsui and Sheffield.
The Mariners, losers of 8 of their last 10, are coming to town. The Yanks are hot right now and with Wang and Johnson getting the ball in 2 of the 3 games, the odds are in the Yankees favor for another series victory. And that's all you can hope for. If you consistently win the series, you'll be in the playoffs.
I'm excited because on Thursday the Bombers will be north of the border in Toronto and I'll be there for the series. I've been waiting all summer for this week. Anybody else going?

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Boys Are Back

After a nice little break, the boys are back. The second half of the season is upon us, and if you're a Yankee fan, like me, you have to be pleased with the way it's started. The Yanks beat the defending World Champs and snapped Jose Contreras' 17-game win streak. The Red Sox have dropped two straight to the A's. The Yankees are 1.5 games back. It's going to be a fun second half.
I've been saying for weeks that I'm not impressed with the Red Sox. They went 14-2 in interleague play. BFD. They're 3-6 since returning to the AL. I didn't see that coming. The Red Sox record against teams with a winning record now stands at 20-23. Not impressive. Incidentally, the Yankees are 24-21 against teams that are better than .500. Not impressive but better than the Sox. After setting an MLB record for consecutive games without an error (17), the Red Sox have committed errors in 7 of their last 11 games (11). The best defense in baseball suddenly doesn't look so good. Josh Beckett is probably one of the worst 11-5 pitchers in baseball. With his outing today his ERA climbs to a far from respectable 5.12. And the bullpen? Yikes. Nice outing today fellas. Even Papelbon is showing cracks in the armor with 3 blown saves in his last 9 save attempts. Every non-Sox fan was pretty dead on when they said that once interleague was over, the Sox would fall back to Earth. It's too bad they don't have more interleague games on the docket.
Today's win was a nice way to get things started. It got a little hairy there in the 9th, but Rivera stayed composed, Bubba made a great catch, and Sinatra was blaring from the speakers. Randy Johnson had a great outing. He really made only 1 mistake, and that was giving up the 2nd inning run to Crede. That's 2 straight solid outings from The Unit. It's good to see he can still deliver. He had me worried for a while.
The offense still needs some punch. They're doing well but are capable of a lot more. Rumor has it the Yanks, and the Mets, are interested in Bobby Abreu. I wouldn't mind seeing him in Pinstripes. He gets on base, has some speed, and has some power. What team wouldn't want that? Everybody knows that the only way the Yanks are getting into the postseason is by winning the division. When the Yanks lost Sheffield and Matsui, I didn't think there was anyway that Cashman was going to let the team go without finding replacements. But he showed some resolve, and it's paid off. The youngsters have played well and have kept the Yankees in the hunt. 1.5 games back in mid-July is nothing. Sox fans should be PO'd that they're not up by more. The Yankees have given them every chance to bury them, but they haven't been able to seal the deal. The same thing happened last year. The Yanks played like doo-doo but everyone let them hang around and they won the division.
People are discounting the Yankees saying this isn't their year and I don't get that. I guess it's so much easier to be a pessimist and think they won't win. Right now, I have no reason to think they won't. The Sox don't scare me.
I'm tired and it's too hot in this house.
Go Yankees.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

They Caught A Whale

It looks like the Yankees will be signing Sidney Ponson for the remainder of the season. While this isn't the pitcher I was hoping for, right now I'm willing to see someone other than Chacon get the shot. I think there is a little potential in Ponson to get the job done.
It looks like the trade market for starting pitching is going to be very thin. It's possible that a top pitcher might be landed, but it is likely going to come at a high cost. The Yankees didn't have to give up anyone to sign Ponson. Hughes, Cano, Wang, Cabrera are still in Pinstripes. And right now, that's a good thing. There's still 2 plus weeks to evaluate Ponson as the 5th starter. If things don't work out, there is still the possibility of trading away the youngsters. Honestly, I hope the farm doesn't get mortgaged, but someone will likely have to go if the Yankees want to improve the ballclub. Bringing in Ponson is a calculated risk. It's a deal for the remainder of the season so it's not costing the Yankees much. I hope it pays off.
Cashman was quoted as saying, "This is something that made sense compared to everything else that's been available so far." He also said, "We obviously haven't made a trade, but there's reason for it; at this point I don't feel there's something worth me pulling the trigger on. We've certainly had opportunities, but not ones that I think are in our best interests to pursue. If anything falls more in line with what makes sense for our short- and long-term goals, then we'll be more aggressive towards those efforts. Just stay tuned, we'll see where this thing takes us over the next few weeks." That's what I like to hear from the GM. Cashman knows the deal. He's not going to bend over and take it with no vaseline. The longer he waits, the more likely the Yankees will acquire the right player at the right cost.
With so many teams in contention for playoff spots, it will likely be a pretty light trading season. There were a few deals today, but nothing Earth shattering. It's going to be pretty hard for teams to wrangle away top talent, unless they're looking at teams that have no chance at the postseason, such as the Pirates, Royals, and Cubs. It'll be an interesting couple of weeks. I'm excited. Are you?

One For The Ages

A record has been broken. In case anyone missed this story, I thought I'd post a link. It's about an 83-year-old man stepping into the batter's box in a minor league game and taking some hacks. The gentleman struck out, but did end up fouling one off. He was quoted as saying, "If I could just get four at-bats in the majors, I could get a hit." I'd like to see him get a shot as he sounds like he's got some skills. It'd be one for the ages.
Give it a read.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back From Heaven

I got back last night around 10:30pm. I spent 2 glorious days in Pittsburgh attending the MLB FanFest. It was awesome. Check out my last post for a little recap of day 1. I got to check out all of FanFest but i didn't really take part in any of the events. I wish I were still there, but hanging out getting autographs doesn't pay the bills. Stupid job, I hate you.
Day two was pretty much the same as day one. A lot of standing around and waiting. I wasn't alone though. You spend 10 hours on your feet standing in line next to the same people and you make friends. I got to FanFest yesterday around 8:15am and waited in a decent sized line for the 9am opening. 9am rolls around and I quickly make my way to the MLB Legends autograph area. That's really the main reason I was there. I'm in line no later than 9:05 and I'm probably a good 30-40 people or so back in line. Not bad. It guaranteed me the first autograph group and it put me in good position to get the others that I wanted. 10am finally rolled around and the first pairing came out: Andre Dawson and Earl Weaver. I already had Earl's auto but "The Hawk" was a nice addition. He signed the ball around 10:30 or so and I got back in line. The 12 noon group was Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal. I ended up getting the autos at about 1:15. I had Cepeda from the day before but he had only signed it with an O and a C and some lines. He was signing a little better so I had him sign another ball, but still no induction year. I got back in line and waited what seemed like forever. The 2:00 group was Luis Aparicio and Bob Feller. Lucky, I had them both already so i could afford to miss getting them. Which I would have because I was so far back in line. The 4pm group was the best pairing of the weekend: Harmon Killebrew and Phil Niekro. 5:15 rolls up and i got them. Killebrew has a really nice signature and I only had Niekro add his induction year to a ball I already had signed. I then walked around for a little bit and eventually got back in line for the final pairing: Dock Ellis and Buck O'Neill. I wasn't interested in Dock's auto but I really wanted Buck's. Most people think he should be in the HOF and I agree. Unfortunately, he didn't make it yesterday. Bummer, but at least I got to leave check out a little more of FanFest and I could leave earlier than I thought I would. I ended up leaving around 7:15 and made it home by 10:30. Boy, did my feet hurt. The ride home went by real quick. I got to catch about 6 inning s or so of the White Sox/Red Sox game. I was pleased with the outcome.
So all in all, it was a great weekend. The city was decked out rather well and it's one of the best cities around. Nothing beats coming in on 279 south and turning around the bend and boom, there's the city. Awesome.
As for the autos, here is a weekend synopsis: Jim Leyritz, Fred Lynn, Andre Dawson, Bill Madlock, Ron LeFlore, Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda x2, Juan Marichal, and Harmon Killebrew. And I had Earl Weaver and Phil Niekro add their induction years. Not bad. I'm going to take some photos later and add them to the photo album.
I suggest if you ever have the means/time to check out a FanFest, you do it. If you've ever been to the NFL Experience at the Super Bowl, it's pretty much the same, but better because it's baseball-themed. If only I could have stayed for the Derby and the Game. It sounds and looks like a great time.
Enjoy the Derby!

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Wish You Were Here

Greetings from the Steel City, Pittsburgh. I'm in town for the weekend taking in the MLB All-Star FanFest. 2 words: It's awesome. Any baseball fan would love it here. Everything is baseball and everyone is a baseball fan. I did get to check things out but I spent most of the day standing in line. Man my dogs are barking. I'm also a little past tired. Since I didn't get to sleep last night until 1am, and I got up at 5:45 to make the 3 hour trek from Buffalo to Pittsburgh, I'm also beyond tired. I left my phat palatial estate around 6am and rolled into "The Burg" minutes after nine. I dropped a 10 spot on parking, walked to the convention center, flashed 'em my ticket and pladow I was in. I think the tiredness has me a little loopy.
By the time I was inside and had finished my business, I drank a big Coke on the drive, I made my way to the MLB Legends Autograph Pavilion and got in line. It was about 9:27. The first pairing was coming out at 10am. The way it works here is 2 guys come out, sign for two hours, and then 2 more come out to sign, and so on and so on. There are 5 sets of guys, every 2 hours, starting at 10am and the last pair comes out at 6pm. I wasn't crazy about the first pairing, Chuck Tanner and Manny Sanguillen. So I waited, in line, until 12pm when Earl Weaver and some old Pirate whose name is escaping me came out. I already had Weaver and I didn't want the Pirate. But, I did bring my signed Weaver ball and had him add his induction year. He did! Score. I walked out of line at about 12:15 and made my way to the back of the line and started it all over again. 2pm rolled around and the pairing was Al Oliver and HOFer Orlando Cepeda. I don't know the exact time I made it up there for that but I'll guess it was around 2:30. Cepeda signed the ball but wouldn't add his induction year. He said they wouldn't let him. "LIAR," I yelled. Just kidding, but he did lie. He added it for the gentleman that was 2 in front of me. There is a word I want to call him. It begins with a D, ends with a K, and it's not duck. But he showed, so I was grateful. The next pairing at 4pm was Doc Ellis and Fred Lynn. I thought I had some time to kill so I walked around and checked things out all and all, it was pretty cool.
I went to the 2nd level and found the setup. They were their radio shows live and it was neat to watch. I got there about 5 minutes before the current show ended. Jimmy Leyritz was on stage. After the show, he was happy to sign a ball for me. Perfect timing. Thanks Jim. They had some PCs setup so you could check out I of course went to MLBlogs and said to myself, "Self. You should live-blog an the action from FanFest." Unfortunately, they had no keyboards. It was all point-and-click. Oh well. Time to go back to the line.
It's about 3:15 and I'm pretty far back. Lynn and Ellis hadn't come out yet so I thought there might be a chance to get Lynn. I knew if I didn't, he'd be an hour down the road from me in early August and I could get it there, free of charge. I was really in line for the 6pm pairing, Luis Aparicio and Bill Madlock. I got to the front of the line around 5:05 or so. I wasn't sure if I went and got Lynn's autograph if I'd get back to the front of the line before 8pm. Odds were good, but I figured why risk it. All hope wasn't lost. I did get a little kid to get it for me. He actually knew Fred Lynn. He's a friend of his Gramps. Cool kid. Thanks for hooking me up. 6pm rolled around and i got Aparicio to sign a ball with his induction year. Madlock signed a ball and was kind enough to add that he was a 4-time batting champ. Ron Leflore also came out and I didn't really want his, but we made eye contact and I felt bad so I got it. It was know about 6:15 and I was done getting autos for the day. Time to walk around some more.
I spent about an hour walking around checking things out. Pretty cool stuff. I'll blog more about it later. I'm currently at a Holiday Inn Express and there's a dude here who wants to use the free Internet hook-up I'm talking advantage of. Step back bro and wait your turn. I figured it'd be best to find a room instead of driving back tonight and coming back tomorrow. The only drawback of today's events was that Gary Carter didn't make his appearance. Oh well.
Tomorrow I'll be doing this all over again. The autograph targets are Andre Dawson, Harmon Killebrew, Buck O'Neill, Juan Marichal, and another name that's escaping me. Right now I'm going to walk across the street to the BK Lounge and get myself a sangwich. The cool kids out there will know what that means.
Wish you were here.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Series Split & I'm Outta Here

The Yanks came back to win the final two games in their series with the Indians and I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. What started out as a disaster quickly became a positive. The offense came alive. The pitching was above average. The Red Sox lost 3 of 4 and the Yankees picked up a game. Winning 3 of 4 would have been nice, but what can you do?
The Yanks are off to Tampa for a 3 game set to wrap up the first half of the season. I'm having mixed feelings on how I think the Yankees will do this weekend. The D-Rays are playing good ball and will be facing the back end of the Yankee rotation. Wright, Wang, and who knows. Perhaps it'll be newly called up Kris Wilson. Wright, Wang, and Wilson. That has a good ring to it. Wright has at times pitched well, but he needs to pitch deeper into the game. The D-Rays lineup isn't exactly full of chumps, so he might have a tough go of it. Wang is a groundball pitcher, so I'm thinking he'll fare well so long as he keeps the ball down. If he does, I don't expect too much from Gomes and Wiggington, and if you can shut down the middle of the lineup you'll have a good shot at winning. The finale is up in the air. If it's not Chacon, I don't know what to expect.
Offensively, I'm pleased with the output over the last 2 days. Jeter's been on fire. A-Rod's average is climbing. Giambi is putting the ball in the seats. The back end of the lineup still needs improvement but they looked better the last 2 games of the Indians series than they did during the first two. There are currently 4 regulars out of the lineup in Damon, Cano, Sheffield, and Matsui. That's a lot of production and a lot of potential in getting on base. There was talk yesterday of Damon being back today, but we'll see. Considering the injuries and at time woeful pitching, the Yanks are doing very well as a whole. You'd think the Sox lead would be bigger than 3 games.
I'm going to likely miss the next 3 games. I have a wedding to attend tonight and tomorrow I'm headed to Pittsburgh for the MLB All-Star Fanfest. I'm going to that Saturday and Sunday. It should be a blast and I'm pretty excited. I'm not sure if my schedule will afford me time to blog an entry or two over the weekend. I'll be home late tonight but am leaving at 6am for Pittsburgh. It's a 3 hour drive and I'm probably going to drive back Saturday and then do it all again on Sunday. I don't mind driving and it beats a hotel.
Enjoy your weekend and go Yankees!

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Did You Know?

Here's a fun fact for you. I was listening to "Baseball This Morning" on XM and Orestes Destrade dropped an interesting statistic. Over the last 6 years, the division leaders, as of July 4th, have only gone on to win the division 19 times. I'll break the math down for everyone. 6 divisions x 6 years = 36 division winners. 19 out of 36 is roughly 53%. For all intents and purposes, that's about half. So if the trend continues, we can expect 3 teams to fall out of first place and fail to win their division this year. The interesting question is, if the trend continues what 3 teams could it happen to?
As of now, there is 1 team I'm pretty sure it won't happen to, and that's the Mets. The NL has shown that they are the inferior league and the Mets have a double-digit lead. I can't see them squandering it. Every other race is close enough that lead changes could easily happen, and most likely will. It'll be a fun second half.

Vill On The Hill

Yesterday afternoon I suggested that the Yankees let Ron Villone start a few games. Today I read over on Yankee beat writer Mark Feisand's blog that Villone could possibly get the start this Sunday. If not Villone, I hope it's Philip Hughes that gets the call. If you've read my last few posts, you know why I think both Wright and Chacon need to be removed from the rotation. This would be a good thing.
Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Blown Out

The Yanks took it on the chin big time. Like I posted earlier today, the game should be an adventure. And boy was it. There isn't really anything good to say. The silver lining is that the BoSox lost to the D-Rays. Nothing lost, nothing gained. Today never happened.
But it did, and we can't shy away from it. The Yankee pitching, with the exception of Ron Villone, was horrible. I've seen this happen before, and not just to the Yankees. The other team is locked in and every pitcher brought out gets touched for a few runs. It seems like everytime the Yankees face Jake Westbrook, this happens. Flashback: Westbrook pitched the game in 2004 when the Tribe won 22-0. Talk about run support.
Should this concern Yankee fans? Not really. Was it an embarrassing game? Yes. Should we be embarrassed? No. This happens to the best of ballclubs. Heck, back in late April, Cleveland beat the Red Sox, in Cleveland, 15-3. A little better outcome for the loser, but for all intents and purposes, it's the same. There pitchers couldn't get it done either. So if any Sox fan spouts off, remind them of that. And remind them that one of their aces was on the hill that day (Beckett). I'd take Beckett over Chacon any day.
We already knew there were pitching problems. I outlined this exact scenario earlier today. The starter gets shelled and the bullpen gets depleted. The real concern is what kind of effect this will have over the next few days. Mussina is on the hill tomorrow and he'll need to pitch deep into the game to give the pen some rest. The good news is Rivera wasn't used and is going to be rested if needed.
Tomorrow is another day. Happy Birthday George.

Call Up The Kid Part Deux

Regarding my last post: You can substitute the name Shawn Chacon for Jaret Wright. They are interchangeable. Neither is doing very well and the bullpen now has to eat up at least 6 innings. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the week.
Philip Hughes can't do any worse. Brian, make the call.
The Sox just lost to Tampa so a Yankee loss isn't as bad as it could have been. Welcome back to the AL Beantown.

Call Up The Kid

Last night's loss to the Indians highlighted how much the Yankee lineup misses Sheffield and Matsui, and Cano for that matter. The bottom 4 of the lineup 1 hit in 15 ABs. That's not going to get the job done. The Yanks had some opportunities, but the resources weren't available to do the job. It was over a month ago when the lineup lost Sheffield and Matsui. At the time, everyone wondered when Yankee GM Brian Cashman was going to trade for some relief. The smart Yankee fans knew he should hold off to see how things developed. I was from the school of thought that as soon as any real distance was put between the Yankees and the division leader, something needed to happen. Considering the injuries and the time missed by the everyday guys, being only 4 games behind Boston is not real distance. I'm glad no deals have been made to this point. I've heard the stories/rumors about deals Cashman may or may not have been working on, and frankly I'm glad nothing has been done to this point. It's removing the desperation factor from the equation. It's also allowing better talent to be had at a cheaper price as each day passes. I'm sorry, but for me, Reggie Sanders wouldn't cut it. A guy like Bobby Abreu, I can live with. As the the trading deadline approaches and teams fall further and further behind, guys like Abreu are going to be cheaper. Cashman has done a good job showcasing the Yankee talent pools and has plenty of resources to get something done. Hopefully, he has the sense to keep guys like Cano and Wang in pinstripes. I think he does.
I think the Yankees need pitching help, more than they need help in the lineup. Though after yesterday, they definitely need help in the lineup. The biggest question I have, and I know a lot of Yankee fans wonder the same thing, is why is Jaret Wright starting every fifth day? He's done nothing but put the Yankees in a bad position. In his 13 starts this year, he has never pitched more than 6 innings. Only 4 times was he able to complete 6 innings. His recent outing against the Mets lasted an inning and a third. When you can't go deep into the ball game, you do nothing but kill the bullpen, which directly affects the following games. The back end of the rotation was so bad, Joe Torre had to change the rotation around so Wang would pitch between Wright and Chacon in an attempt to not burn the bullpen on back-to-back days. We saw how much this hurt when we played Washington. First game of the series, Wright pitches and lasts 5 innings. Now you have to use Proctor, Farnsworth and Rivera to nail down the win. Chacon pitches game two and last only 4 and a third. What's worse is the Yankees gave him a 7 run lead. So the bullpen gets used again. An overused Rivera blows the save and gets the loss. This then carries over into the final game of the series. The bullpen is so shot that you need Wang to pitch a gem. He does, and the game was so close in the 9th that you expected to see Rivera pitch. Since the bullpen was overused the previous 2 games, Wang is left out in the 9th and gives up the game winning HR. What easily could have been a sweep, turns into a series lost.
So where does this leave us? I have 2 suggestions. 1) Let Ron Villone start a few games. I know he's better suited for the bullpen, but Wright and Chacon aren't getting it done. Villone has 93 career starts, none since 2004. Give the guy a shot. He's capable. 2) This is something I'm surprised we haven't seen yet and it's the move I'm most fond of and it's to call up Phillip Hughes. The kid has what it takes to win ball games. I'd feel better with this 20-year-old kid on the bump, then I would with Wright. Hughes spent some time in A ball this year but was promoted to AA after only 3 weeks in Tampa. Combined, he's started 17 games and pitched 102 innings. He's given up 71 hits and 25 walks, a WHIP of 0.94. That's pretty **** good. His ERA is 2.47 and he's flirted with two no-hitters. He also strikes out more than a batter per inning, and he keeps the ball in the yard, giving up on average 1 HR every 20.4 innings. Someone tell me why he's still in the minors? We've seen the success other teams have had with bringing up good, young pitchers. From what I've seen and read, Hughes would by far be the cream of that crop. And the Yankees know first hand that it's tough to hit a pitcher you're unfamiliar with. I'd like to see the kid get a shot to see what he can do on the major league level before he gets traded (which I hope doesn't happen but I think is inevitable). Hughes vs. Wright as the number 5? To me, it's a no-brainer. It makes sense.
Chacon gets the ball tonight. It should be an adventure.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Lots O' Good Stuff

Interleague play wrapped up yesterday with a trouncing of the Mets. The Yankees have now won 4 straight series, nothing to scoff at. It very well could have been 6 straight, if not for a depleted bullpen in game 3 of the Washington series. Either way, the Yanks are playing good ball. It's too bad that so are the Sox, Twins, White Sox, and Tigers. It's going to make for an interesting second half. If you've been reading my blog, you know I think the Yankees have a great chance at winning the division and getting back to the playoffs. I'm not terribly impressed with the play of the Boston Red Sox. I still don't think they're a great team and I expect it to balance out on the standings as the end of the season draws near. The errorless streak and the interleague record are impressive, but honestly, who will remember that if they don't win it all. Nobody. It will be forgotten soon after the season and memories of the accomplishments will only be conjured up when another team makes a run at those feats.
I've been commenting today on the Sox blogs, specifically Red Sox Nation Daily and at the Red Sox Chick's. I've been talking baseball and defending the Yanks. Jonathan commented on the Chick's blog that Loretta was the better 2B of the two and that the numbers bare it out. While i agree that Loretta is deserving of being an all-star, I don't think he deserved the starting mod over Cano. And that's not to say Cano was the most deserving, but he is certainly more deserving than Loretta. And the numbers support that. I went through this before on my blog, but I'll go through it again. Up and down the line, Cano is better offensively than Loretta. Now if you look at their totals, Loretta has the edge in many categories. But Loretta has 57 more plate appearances, which is ample opportunity to pad the stats. If you break it down by plate appearance, Cano has more hits per plate appearance, more doubles, more triples, more HRs, more runs scored, more RBIs. He has a higher average and a higher OPS. Loretta has walked more, which has helped with the OBP being .005 than Cano's, but that's minuscule in comparison to the other stats. And Cano does strike out more per plate appearance. Offensively, Cano wins, hands down. If you look at their defensive totals, the edge goes slightly to Loretta. Loretta is no doubt the better fielder, but Cano brings more to the table. Cano gets to 83.9% of balls hit in his "zone," while Loretta gets to only 80.3%. What does that mean? Well, Cano has 29 more total chances, 17 more putouts, 3 more assists, and 6 more DPs. He's done this in 13 less defensive innings. Not bad. Loretta doesn't make as many errors, but he doesn't get to as many balls. Getting to the ball translates to an out. I think I've made my point rather nicely, again. Cano was the better choice of the two. Was he the best choice? That's up for debate.
Jonathan also feels that the Yanks should be embarrassed with their interleague performance. He belittles the Yankees victories over the Mets in comparison to the Sox because the Yankees got to face the back end of the rotation and missed both Pedro and Glavine. Is this really a valid argument? This is bound to happen every season, to every team. I'm sure I can go dig through the schedule and find many an instance where the Red Sox benefited in a pitching match-up compared to the Yankees. It's a given so I won't waste my time. I'm not embarrassed by the Yankees play in interleague. They won 4 straight series. That's nothing to feel bad about. They've won 7 of the last 10. They're in good shape. If you want to use the argument that the Sox went 14-2 against the same opponents to prove they are a better team, that's fine. Knock yourself out. But if you look at the record of the two teams against common AL opponents, the Yanks are 22-11, the Sox are 26-21. And there you go. It's too bad the Sox don't continue to play the NL East. The Yanks are playing good ball. No need to worry.
Finally, we have the ever-so hated curtain calls. Give it up. It's going to happen. While I think A-Rod took a little long to start his trot yesterday, he deserved both his CCs. He's been publicly criticized and he's been on a tear the last few games. Yankee fans are ecstatic he's finding his swing. Many have called him out for not being clutch. In a pretty big spot yesterday, he hits a go-ahead grand slam. He came through. They thanked him and he acknowledged. Later on, he went yard again, and again they wanted to let him know we're on his side. And Nick Green? 1st HR as a Yankee! Need I say more. The CCs shouldn't bother anybody. The RSC has said that all of MLB is laughing at the Yankees when they take what they feel is an unnecessary CC. Who is to say what is, and what isn't, necessary? I think that's up to the fans who are cheering. And if a guy wants to say thanks to the fans for the support, how's that a bad thing? I agree that sometimes I'm a little bewildered why Yankee fans cheer for a CC, but who cares? The players don't, why should anyone else? If the players cared, they'd police it, like they do with a "pimp-stroll." Why doesn't a guy get a beanball in the ear after a CC? Because no one cares! Let it go.
I have some more to say but I've written enough. I'll sum it up with this: it was a great weekend. We took two of three from the Mets and won another series. I've got some concerns about the pitching, which I'll share my thoughts on in my next post. Until then, go Yanks.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

He's Baaaaack

Another A-Bomb!
We're coming to get'cha.

Just Run The Bases

Somebody tell Grandma to get out some mustard because we've got a Grand Salami. A-Rod just went deep to put the Yanks ahead 6-4. The only problem I had with the HR was with A-Rod's "Manny Ramirez" impersonation. Alex, just run the bases. That was a pretty blatant display of "pimping it." You're better than that. Paul LoDuca seemed to take exception to it with a little verbal sparring with A-Rod. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody gets plunked. I'm actually expecting it to happen.
Yanks are up 9-4. But it's early and the bullpen needs to come through.